Exotic animal diseases communications strategy: August 2022

This communications strategy is for use in the event of a disease outbreak, whether a major outbreak with widespread disease, or a more limited incident.

10. Local level communications

Central Disease Control Centre (CDCC) Communications

10.1 The CDCC assumes responsibility for disease response communications at the local level. APHA's Outbreak Director for Scotland will ensure operational partners, local stakeholders and other affected parties are kept informed of the disease response as it develops. The Outbreak Director will also act as a central point of contact for operational partners, stakeholders, the NDCC and other CDCCs as appropriate. The Outbreak Director will brief the relevant RPs on the operational disease control response to ensure a consistent message is going out to all operational partners, and will liaise closely with local stakeholders to ensure they are kept updated.

10.2 Communications with the local media on disease response will be led by CMSD. CMSD will draft and issue all news releases – both local and national. A Communications Officer from Defra Group Communications (APHA Team) may be deployed within the FOB/CDCC to liaise with local media. However, all media calls and queries should still be routed to CMSD (if lines are already available and cleared, the communications officer on site can provide them to local media). They will also work with Defra, DAERA, Welsh Government communications and the relevant RP Public Communications Group to manage media relations at the scene of incidents, and to ensure a consistent message is being projected from all agencies. All media queries received by operational partners should be referred to the Outbreak Director in the first instance.

10.3 Consideration may also be given to establishing a media centre at the suspect/infected premises. However, this is unlikely unless there is a high media presence around the premises and establishing a media centre is deemed the most effective way of liaising with the media. Any decision to establish a media centre will be taken by CMSD's Head of News. The Head of News will also seek support from Defra Group Communications (APHA Team) and RPs in resourcing the media centre.

Regional and Local Resilience Partnerships (RPs)

10.4 Depending on the disease, there may be wider consequences arising from a disease outbreak for a range of sectors and industries, meaning more organisations will need to be kept informed. RPs will coordinate communications with all relevant public, commercial and voluntary responder organisations involved in consequence management.

10.5 In any emergency, the effectiveness of the response and recovery processes will depend on cooperation from a number of different public groups. Clear communication lines with the public will help ensure their cooperation. At a national (Scottish) level, liaison between CMSD and SGoR will help RPs ensure all responders are well briefed ahead of putting information into the public domain.

Initial local level communications

10.6 Where appropriate, APHA/CDCC staff (with support from the SG Rural Payments and Inspections Division (RPID) where required) will phone animal keepers who are directly affected by area movement controls to tell them about the requirements they must observe, and to give general biosecurity advice. This briefing will be based on information provided in the relevant movement control zone declaration and the Key Brief. A letter, approved by the DSG, providing more detail will for most diseases then be issued by APHA upon confirmation of disease to keepers in the Protection and Surveillance Zones.

Local stakeholder group

10.7 The Outbreak Director will establish and chair a local level stakeholder group. Meetings will provide a forum for updating local stakeholders and operational partners and for discussing any concerns. The frequency of meetings will be determined by the Outbreak Director in discussion with stakeholders.

Local helpline

10.8 A decision on the need for a local phone helpline will be taken by the CDCC's Management Team. Establishing the local helpline will involve liaising with RPs and possibly stakeholders to ensure a service capable of dealing with a wide range of local issues.

10.9 If established, helpline numbers will be included on the Scottish Government website and in future news releases. The numbers will also be advertised locally. A Core Script will be produced by the DPU and will be the main reference source for helpline staff when dealing with queries.

CDCC/IP media support

10.10 The Scottish Government or APHA Communications Officer at the FOB will advise the CDCC Management Team on communications issues and coordinate any communications with the media at the local level.

Local disease control operations

10.11 The Local Communications Officer will continue to work with the CDCC Management Control Team to ensure that local disease control operations and related activities are supported by coordinated and consistent messages. Operational partners will be expected to focus on their specific area of expertise and collaborate with others to ensure consistency in the messages sent out. This will be coordinated through the CDCC Management Control Team.


Email: Animal.Health@gov.scot

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